FBA conducts training for ODIHR monitors

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced millions of people to flee and several cases of abuse of human rights have been reported. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, is now deploying monitors on the ground who will document the situation and interview witnesses and survivors. In June, several monitors participated in a preparatory course conducted by FBA.

All the parties to an international armed conflict must abide by international humanitarian law, which protects civilians from deliberate military attacks, violence, and other forms of abuse of human rights. International organizations, such as the UN and the OSCE have reported several violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine, including attacks against civilians, enforced disappearance, and torture.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, has been carrying out research about the human rights situation in Ukraine remotely since the beginning of the war but is now deploying monitors on the ground, within a project called the Ukraine Monitoring Initiative.

Their task is to observe the security situation and conduct interviews with witnesses and survivors of human rights violations. The mission will prioritise urgent issues such as deliberate attacks against civilians, willful killings, the use of indiscriminate weapons, torture, and the use of sexual violence as a weapon.

One of the monitors that will be deployed is Andrew Gardner, Deputy Head of the Human Rights Department of ODIHR and project manager of the Ukraine Monitoring Initiative.

The team of which he is a part have recently been at the FBA’s training facility in Sandö in the municipality of Kramfors to participate in the course Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT). The FBA decided earlier this year to offer places on the course to support the mission.

- Ukraine has a very serious human rights situation, with multiple violations of international humanitarian law. It is very important for ODIHR to be there on the ground, and to be there quickly, in this urgent situation. The FBA’s HEAT course is facilitating that for us. We will be deploying to the Kyiv region, which was occupied by Russian forces and where many violations have been reported. It's a difficult area to be in, with problems with mines, booby traps, and a host of other hazards that are associated with conflict, says Andrew Gardner.

The HEAT course is arranged regularly by FBA and is designed to prepare the personnel of civilian peace operations for risks that can arise in conflict areas.

– The training is mainly focused on events that are unlikely to occur but with potentially serious consequences. It includes kidnap survival, lethal attacks, first aid in hostile environments, but also convoy driving and mental preparation. During this particular course, we spent more time on training related to chemical and biological hazards, which is an imminent risk in Ukraine, says Peter Bülund, HEAT course director at FBA.

Andrew Gardner and the other monitors will travel to Ukraine sometime in the summer of 2022. Their observations will be analyzed in a final report aimed at helping efforts to ensure accountability for human rights violations in Ukraine.

Interview with Andrew Gardner

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